Featured snippets and rich results can help you rank higher than your competitors on Google.
More than 92 per cent of global searches happen on Google. Ranking high on the world’s most popular search engine is the overarching goal of search engine marketing and search engine optimization strategies. It’s what will get your brand noticed by people who are ready to buy and open the door to more visitors and more sales.
To ensure Google showcases your brand, you should tailor your content for two important types of search results: featured snippets and rich results.
How do you get featured snippets and rich snippets?
- Be strategic when choosing keywords
- Use long-tail keywords and questions
- Develop content that answers your audience’s questions
- Optimize your content to fit into the featured snippet formats
- Create a featured snippet hub
What are featured snippets?
Google’s algorithms are designed to zero in on relevant pieces of information and to automatically pull short excerpts from a web page to help searchers find what they need. These excerpts are called featured snippets.
For marketers, capturing Google’s attention requires creating concise, informative web content that answers your target audience’s questions. If the content/answer is good enough, Google will highlight it as a featured snippet and top resource for searchers — ahead of the first organic result.
Featured snippets are made up of:
- a short, written excerpt pulled from a web page that tries to directly answer a user’s question;
- the page’s title tag or meta title, which describes what users can expect to find on the page; and
- the page’s URL.
Tip: Subfolders are an effective way to keep information organized on your site. They can also help you land as a featured snippet. Subfolders are listed after the forward slash in a URL. Limit the number of subfolders in a URL to three or less. Long URLs are less likely to get a featured snippet.
The benefits of featured snippets:
- a top ranking on Google’s search engine results pages;
- a window into visitor behaviours once they click on your content;
- increased credibility; and
- improved click-through-rates.
How to optimize content for featured snippets
Google is all about improving the user experience. That means providing links to relevant information. Search engine optimization and selecting the right keywords are critical to ensure Google prioritizes your brand on its results pages. Here are five ways to earn featured snippets.
1. Be strategic when choosing keywords
Choose keywords and phrases people are using to find your brand and that have search intent. Do the research to find the keywords that will resonate with your target audience. The more specific you can be with your keywords, the better you’ll rank.
2. Longer keywords and questions work best
There are two types of keywords: short-tail, which include one or two keywords; and long-tail, which can have more than 10 words. According to research from Semrush and Brado, 19 per cent of keywords in Google have a featured snippet. They show up much more often with long-tail queries or questions.
Tip: Test your keywords. Position Tracking tool offers reports on the effectiveness of your keywords in triggering featured snippets.
3. Develop content that answers your audience’s questions
Think of the needs of your target audience and create content they will find valuable. This can take the form of a series of articles, one article that tackles several topics or a FAQ page.
Fast facts: According to the study by Semrush and Brado:
- 29 per cent of keywords that triggered a featured snippet started with a question-based word, such as “why,” “do” and “can.”
- 77.6 per cent of questions that start with “why” result in featured snippets.
- 72.4 per cent of queries that start with “can” result in featured snippets.
Tip: Keep your content current and date it. Most sites intentionally don’t date content to keep it evergreen. This isn’t helpful to users who may need to know when information was first published. Remember, Google is all about highlighting content that its users will find relevant.
4. Optimize your content to fit into the featured snippet formats
There are five types of formats for featured snippets: paragraph, list, table, video and interactive carousel. Keep these in mind when you are creating your content. In all cases, keep the content crisp, concise and easy to read.
- Paragraphs are the most common type of featured snippet. They are usually around 50 words.
- Lists appear as featured snippets either as bullets or numbers.
- Tables are not as popular as paragraphs or lists, but they are an effective way to share a lot of information in a condensed space.
- Videos help users answer how-to questions.
- Interactive carousels are the newest featured snippet format. In addition to answering a user’s query, they provide the option to click on other featured snippets that might be more helpful.
5. Create a featured snippet hub
Take your content that has earned 10 or more featured snippets and put it together in one piece of content that answers multiple questions. Make sure to present the information in paragraphs, lists, tables and videos.
Fast facts about featured snippet hubs from the Semrush-Brado study:
- 98 per cent use HTTPS;
- on average, they are 1,100 words and have 14.5 H1, H2 and H3 heading tags, and eight images with ALT tags; and
- 66 per cent use structured data.
A quick look at rich results
What are rich results?
Rich results (also known as rich snippets) are often image-based, animated, interactive search listings designed to help users find what they need quickly. This increased visibility helps increase click-through rates. While Google generates featured snippets by analyzing a page’s content, it generates rich results based on the way a page is structured and presents information.
Tip: Structured content is broken down into its component parts. Content created today is not structured.
Another important difference between featured snippets and rich results: the types of sites they can help. Featured snippets work for businesses across any industry. That’s because being able to provide relevant answers to user queries is not industry specific. Rich results work for sites with structured content, such as review sites and business listings.
For sites with structured content, the key to capturing Google’s interest is to clearly label content (for example, a company name, address or rating). These labels or markups won’t be visible to users, but when Google crawls the site, it will recognize the categorizations for the following types of content:
- people profiles,
- events, and
Google uses the markups to create rich results.
A few best practices:
- Use meta tags or add rich snippets markup to your HTML to boost your visibility on Google’s results pages.
- Add PageMap data to your HTML page. This allows you to add actions to your snippet.
- Use the rich snippets testing tool to make sure Google can correctly interpret your meta tags.
Winning featured snippets and rich snippets will take some time and effort. But, once accomplished, these strong tools will help raise your profile and credibility.